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Natural selection favors rapid reproductive phenology in Potentilla pulcherrima (Rosaceae) at opposite ends of a subalpine snowmelt gradient

TitleNatural selection favors rapid reproductive phenology in Potentilla pulcherrima (Rosaceae) at opposite ends of a subalpine snowmelt gradient
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2004
AuthorsStinson, KA
JournalAmerican Journal of Botany
Page range531-539
Call Number815BP
Abstract

In high altitude plants, flowering quickly ensures reproductive success within a short snow-free period, but limits maturation time and fecundity. Natural selection on prefloration intervals may therefore vary in contrasting snowmelt environments and could influence the outcome of phenological responses to climatic change. This study investigated adaptive differentiation and plasticity of prefloration intervals in the subalpine perennial Potentilla pulcherrima. Three years of in situ field observations were combined with phenotypic selection analyses and a common garden experiment. Plants from high, intermediate, and low altitudes expressed similar prefloration intervals and plasticity when grown at common altitude, indicating no evidence for adaptive differentiation. Selection on the prefloration interval was negative at both low and high altitudes before and after accounting for strong positive selection on size. Environmental differences between high and low altitudes indicated that long, dry seasons and short, wet seasons both favored rapid reproduction. Therefore, quicker reproduction was adaptive in response to late snowmelt, but slower reproduction in response to earlier snowmelt appeared to be maladaptive. Selection differed marginally between late snowmelt years and dry ones. Plastic responses to future precipitation patterns may therefore have positive or negative effects on fitness within a single species, depending upon altitude and year.